New Zealand’s food and fibre sector needs a change of mindset if it’s to thrive in coming years, says the winner of the Beef + Lamb NZ Emerging Achiever Award.
Amy Hoogenboom, a beef genetics manager for Zoetis New Zealand, told the Farmers Weekly In Focus podcast that market trends have made people pessimistic.
“But I think we need to try and look a little bit further out past what’s impacting us currently, and try and see some of the opportunities and what that might mean for our sector.”
She said New Zealand is in the perfect position to lead the world as a producer of sustainable food and fibre.
“I think New Zealand does a fantastic job of the way in which we produce food for the world, very conscious of the environment that we’re working with.
“When you talk about sustainability of food production, it’s not just about environment, it’s about the people, the social, and economic side of it as well.”
But it will take a shift in mindset to achieve this, including valuing the ideals the next generation of farmers bring.
“I don’t want to say we value ourselves more than the older generations in the sector. We are farmers, but that is not our sole purpose.
“We want to have that better work-lifestyle balance, and we want to be valued for the work that we do.
“And I think gone are the days of just slogging it out. I think there’s a real shift in terms of younger people’s thought processes to how they relate to the work that they do.
Young people want the work they do to be meaningful and they want to feel valued, she said.
But that’s hard when the sector appears to be more divided than ever.
“Watching some of the behaviours of those involved in our sector, there has probably been more division, particularly over the last two years, 18 months, than there has been necessarily between rural and urban people.
“I think we need to become more supportive of each other. We’re very hard on ourselves and hard on each other as people in the rural sector.
“We need to be more supportive and respectful of differing views and opinions on different subject matters, and have a clearer vision on what is needed for our sector moving forward to ensure that we maintain our relevance, particularly given we’re an export-focused country.”
Hoogenboom aims to use her voice to champion collaboration and communication across NZ’s beef sector.
“I do think sometimes that the farm gate gets shut and we forget to reopen it. So whether that be between producer and processor or producer, farmer and industry organisations, trying to find ways to have that more open discussion and communicate with each other around issues and challenges and how we might move forward with some of those.”
In Focus: Meat markets are a mess, here’s why
Willie Wiese, Alliance chief executive, joins Bryan to discuss the turmoil in global markets that has seen the co-op go from a record profit last year to predicting a loss this season (listen from the 1:20 minute mark).
Then Bryan chats with Amy Hoogenboom, who won the emerging achiever award at the recent Beef + Lamb NZ awards. (listen from the 16:30 minute mark).
He also catches up with Federated Farmers dairy chair Richard McIntyre who has returned from the international Dairy Federation conference in Chicago, where he found that the other big dairy producers think we’re crazy for pricing agricultural emissions (listen from the 30:50 minute mark).